Couples’ self-control and marital conflict: Does similarity, complementarity, or totality matter more?

Adam K L Cheung*, Tuen-Yi Chiu, Susanne Y.P. Choi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Research that approached self-control as a dyad-level predictor of relationship outcomes is hitherto scarce. To address this research gap, this study investigates three configurations of couples’ level of self-control on marital conflict. We test three competing hypotheses suggested in the literature: similarity hypothesis, complementarity hypothesis, and totality hypothesis. The data used to test these hypotheses is a unique couple data (N = 1698 individuals from 894 married couples) of husbands and wives from a representative sample in Hong Kong. Two-level random-intercept models were employed. Based on our analysis with the difference-score method and response surface analysis, we find evidence to support the similarity hypothesis. The similarity of self-control between husband and wife is important in predicting marital conflict. In contrast, the total level of self-control is not predictive of marital conflict. This study highlights that marital conflict is strongly associated with the mismatch of self-control between partners.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102638
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Research
Early online date30 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Marital quality
  • Marital conflict
  • Self-control
  • Couple similarity
  • Asian families


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